Influence Police drones soar over privacy qualms, clear for House floor

A bill designed to allow law enforcement to use remotely piloted aircraft in investigations passed its third House committee (Judiciary) Thursday afternoon.

The bill is ready for the House floor, though the Senate companion still has two committee stops.

HB 75 allows law enforcement to use drones to survey traffic accidents, to collect evidence at a crime scene, and to assist in crowd control.

“Crowd control” was the sticking point for the panel during debate.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican in his second term, noted that a crowd is a group of more than 50 people, “not a house party.”

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That phrasing was not universally reassuring, however.

Some concern in the committee was expressed about a potential semantic slippery slope, where “crowd control” becomes shooting rubber bullets or tear gas.

“It’s a nebulous term,” Democratic Rep. Mike Gottlieb said.

“Control is a strong word, I agree,” Yarborough said.

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